News / Europe

Thousands Flee Eastern Ukraine as End of Cease-Fire Looms

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, June 26, 2014.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, June 26, 2014.
VOA News

Witnesses say thousands of Ukrainians fleeing violence in eastern Ukraine lined up late Thursday at a Russian border crossing in cars packed with personal belongings to cross into Russia.

The exodus, witnessed by an Associated Press reporter, came hours before a week-long Ukrainian cease-fire was to expire, with little progress reported in talks aimed at ending a deadly armed rebellion by pro-Russian separatists.

It remained unclear late Thursday whether Friday's 0700 UTC deadline will be extended.  

Ukrainian border guards at the Izvaryne crossing late Thursday reported kilometers-long lines of cars seeking refuge in Russia.  Earlier this week, Russian migration officials said more than 90,000 refugees had been registered on the Russian side of the border.  

Russian officials were quoted as saying most of the evacuees said they were only temporarily relocating.

Hours earlier, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko called on Russia to support his peace plan with “actions, not words."  In an address to the Council of Europe, Mr. Poroshenko also accused Moscow of waging an “undeclared war” by backing and arming the separatists.

He also said that unless Russia returns Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in March, normalization of bilateral relations is “impossible.”

Kerry calls on Russia

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it is "critical" for Russia "in the next hours" to call on pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine to disarm.

He made the call Thursday in Paris, after meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

Kerry said he and the French foreign minister are in "full agreement"  that Russian President Vladimir Putin must prove that Russia is working to persuade the separatists to disarm and become part of the peace process.

"We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they're moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and to begin to become part of a legitimate process,'' Kerry told reporters in Paris.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Mr. Putin to make the same point.  German and Russian accounts of the conversation quote Ms. Merkel as telling the Russian leader to demonstrate "in the coming hours" a strong commitment to ending support for the rebellion. Otherwise, she said, the European Union -- meeting Friday in Brussels -- will be forced to consider a new round of sanctions against Moscow.

The call took place “at the initiative of the German side” and touched on questions of “monitoring observance of the ceasefire between the sides in conflict, the necessity of extending the truce, the establishment of regular work by the contact group and the freeing of people being forcibly detained,” the Kremlin said.

OSCE monitors freed

Separately, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said four of its monitors, abducted by rebels last month, have been released.  Aleksandr Borodai, the self-proclaimed "prime minister" of the breakaway Donetsk region, described the release late Thursday as a goodwill gesture.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted Borodai as saying he is confident four other monitors seized in late May will be released soon

Sanctions threat

On Wednesday, the Obama administration said it was ready to impose fresh sanctions on Russia if Moscow fails to take action to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.

The administration said it has delayed implementation as it presses for unified support from European and U.S. manufacturers for the measures.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday the new sanctions will target Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors.

The threat of new sanctions comes as American business leaders campaign against unilateral penalties, claiming they will hurt U.S. interests and cost American jobs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers plan to stress the perceived threat to U.S. interests with a newspaper advertising campaign. 

European leaders also have voiced concern that new sanctions could otherwise hurt Europe's expanding economic ties with Moscow. Still, they are expected to discuss possible new round at their summit in Belgium on Friday.

The European Union and the United States earlier imposed sanctions against specific Russian individuals and companies after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March.

  • Pro-Russian fighters guard their military unit in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, June 27, 2014.
  • A just-released member of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine gets out of a vehicle next to Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Donetsk, Ukraine, June 26, 2014.
  • A man sorts donated clothes at a former concert hall converted into a center for collecting humanitarian aid for refugees in Donetsk, Ukraine, June 26, 2014.
  • A man says goodbye to his relatives as they prepare to cross the border into Russia at the checkpoint in Izvaryne, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, June 26, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian separatists man a road checkpoint outside the town of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, June 24, 2014.
  • A coal miner walks at Privilnyanska coal mine damaged by shelling in the town of Pryvillya in Luhansk, Ukraine, June 24, 2014.
  • People block a car carrying Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and Ukrainian lawmaker Nestor Shufrich after a meeting with leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic in Donetsk, Ukraine, June 23, 2014.
  • People with their faces covered take part in a pro-Ukrainian anti-separatist rally near the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, June 22, 2014.
  • An activist from a pro-Ukrainian radical youth group stands in a front of riot police outside the Russian embassy in Kyiv, June 22, 2014.
  • Riot police protect an office of the Russian Sberbank after people attacked it with the stones in Kyiv, June 22, 2014.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Eric from: Berlin
June 27, 2014 4:14 AM
We must not impose sanctions on Russia because they will hurt our business and interest and I will not buy my son a toy he wants to! Turn blind eye on Ukrainians,they don't need this World and let Putin destroy it with millions victims!


by: gen from: japan
June 26, 2014 11:21 PM
Russia makes efforts to push each side ,kiev and radical separatists, sit at a same table now to avoid more clash. Russian diplomats intermediate each side.But US president only blames Kremlin.Why? US seems to hope that each side would break.


by: gen from: japan
June 26, 2014 11:08 PM
90,000 people fleed Ukraine.it was caused by US's support of right sectors in kiev and toppled the government to make pro-US government.US and Europe still blame Kremlin.But Why do people flee to Russia?
Why don't they flee to western side of Ukraine? What happened in Ukraine?
US governmet and the EU help kiev to push the people oust from the east region of Ukraine?


by: Not Again from: Canada
June 26, 2014 9:37 PM
The fact that families are fleeing from Ukraine into Russia, is a clear indicator that the separatists do not intend to lay down their weapons. The separatists must have notified their social communications chain, that there will be a danger to their relatives. Usually it is done through the local church, much the same type of sit was observed in other conflict regions, when people supporting one side of the conflict rapidly left the cities/villages. It is not good news.


by: Ellipsysis@live.com from: Denver, CO, USA
June 26, 2014 7:23 PM
As long as this issue has been around, every time I see the comments on the article, I see those commenting bashing the US. I find it discerning because the sentiment is that we're not educated about the world, and I at least for one am. Whatever our government is doing, blame the Republicans. If that fails, please just acknowledge that we're a people of people. Not everyone has the same opinion, and neither are we required to. My heart sinks for what is happening in the Ukraine because all people deserve freedom.


by: Educated User
June 26, 2014 7:02 PM
Kerry is a class-A BUFFOON who has no right representing America's interests in any capacity. Every time President Obama lets this raging moron off of his leash he runs amuck and embarrasses everyone. Please - for the love of America - send this guy back to the trailer trash he belongs with. ENOUGH.


by: Ben from: Au
June 26, 2014 6:58 PM
The fact that Ukrainians run away from Poroshenko to Russia shows that Kerry talks nonsense.


by: lazerbenabba from: London, England
June 26, 2014 6:47 PM
It is quite apparent from the comments so far (4) that ignorance is catching. The belief that Putin is the sugar coated knight in shining armour protecting those Russian speakers who clamour for a Greater Russia "a la" the USSR, stretches credibility to breaking point.
It is convenient to forget that the previous encumbent as the Ukranian President, fled with his tail between his legs and a great deal of filthy lucre to make certain that he will remain in luxury in Putin's sanctuary.
The annexation of Crimea under the pretext of saving innocent lives is a gigantic fig leave attempting to cover the naked ambition of Putin's territorial ambitions.
As to Poroshenko being subservient to the West, there is no doubt that he wishes his nation to be part of a practicing Democracy not the personal fiefdom that is so evident in Putin's Russia.


by: Michael from: work
June 26, 2014 6:45 PM
I love how the US gov is making all these accusations without any proof to back them up.


by: Steve from: Berkeley Californai
June 26, 2014 6:38 PM
Podoshenko wants war and he wants the EU to swallow up Ukraine and allow NATO to move in. He is the kind of host the west loves a toadying lap dog to do his masters bidding. One can't imagine Russia will allow this to occur on her border. Imagine if Mexico and Canada were regimes hostile to the US fomenting and provoking instability and even terror. Stay tuned Mr. Putin has many more shoes in his arsenal to drop.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid